originally posted March 16, 2011

It was the Christmas gift I wanted.  I even picked it out.  And yet, I felt frustration.  The new stainless steel frying pans sat in the sink, crusted with remnants of my cooking.  I had tried several methods to prevent the mass sticking to no avail.

So the non-stick pans stuck around longer than I wanted.  Because what I wanted less was to spend an hour scrubbing one pan just to use it again so that I could scrub it for another hour.

Then, in a stroke of brilliance that only God could create, I learned the trick.  Amid a conversation with the lead grounds worker at the office, I learned he had a culinary degree and worked in restaurants for more than a decade.  So I asked him, “How do I use my pans and still get the food out of them?”

He smiled, shook his head, and said, “Remember one thing: Hot pan, cold fat.  Nothing will ever stick to them if you have a hot pan before you add cold fat.”

Months later, I still remember these four words, “Hot pan, cold fat.”  And though it has made cooking so much easier, it has been rattling around in my brain for another reason.

In the spiritual life, I wonder if we avoid temptation by having the same: hot pan, cold fat.  As I review the last year of my life, I see how when work brought me “out of the frying pan and into the fire,” life was hot.  The heat was strong, the stress was high, and anyone near felt the burn of the experiences.  Life was certainly a hot pan.

Cold fat is when we know that we do not have all the answers.  We know we are blind, deaf, mute, and incapable of continuing without Jesus leading the way.  Cold fat is knowing that there is nothing we can do by ourselves to take down the heat on the pan.

And when my perspective was the cold fat perspective, nothing could stick.  The stress was still there, and even some heartache, but the temptations, the anger, the bitterness never had a chance at sticking to my life.  Approaching the situation knowing that only God could bring me through gave no foothold for Satan to have any impact on me.

Hot pan, cold fat.

And though the rest of this analogy may break down when it comes to cooking, I now live in a cooler pan.  Which means, I need to be aware that even though the pan is cool, I still know nothing.  When the heat is no longer burning through everything it touches, it isnecessary to remember that the same God leading you through the hot pan situation is the only One able to lead us through even the cooler pan situations.

Though the situation may change, the truth remains: only Jesus can lead us successfully through this life.  And as such, every situation can be a hot pan situation, for the risk of providing Satan a foothold is strong at every turn–making every pan a hot pan.

So it remains our goal to be cold fat.  Be cold fat.

photo by Luca Baroncini

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